“ Address: Masai Mara National Reserve / Kenya / Africa „
As part of our two week honeymoon in Kenya in October 2008, we spent two nights of our 8 day safari experience based at Keekorok Lodge, slap bang in the middle of the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. These were the first 2 nights of our safari, and we couldn't have asked for better.
A brief word on the Masai Mara itself - one of the most incredible places to go on safari, with a wide range of wildlife, and was the site of our favourite safari all holiday - and early morning game drive where not only was the weather perfect, but we also saw a cheetah with her 3 cubs - the same cheetah (Shakira) who was being filmed that very week (unbeknownst to us!) by the BBC for Big Cats Live!
All the rooms are self contained little log cabins - normally either semi detached or part of a block of 4 (depending on the size of your room). Each cabin is accessed from outside, and contains a bedroom (with fan!) and bathroom. The rooms are lovely and clean, and at dusk the mosquito nets are put down around your bed, and your bed turned down ready for you! All rooms are within easy walking distance of the main reception and restaurant area.
All meals are served in a buffet style. The restaurant itself was busy - although it's a relatively small hotel, Keekorok Lodge is one of the most popular lodges in the Masai Mara - but there was always plenty of food available. There was also a very wide choice available - 3 courses if you wanted it! My husband is very picky over his food, but he had no trouble finding things he liked each and every meal time. Breakfasts were outstanding, with a choice of 2 or 3 different sausages and bacons, fruit, potatoes, yogurts, and the obligatory egg station! This is something that you will find in most hotels and lodges in Kenya - there is a chef stationed with two pans, and masses of eggs. You can have your eggs cooked anyway you like - literally! Fried (hard or soft), scrambled, pancake or omelette, and you get to choose your omelette filling (cheese, onion, peppers, chilli...). For lunches and evenings, the egg station turns into a pasta station! You get a choice of two pastas (macaroni or spaghetti) and you can create your own pasta sauce to go with it. At Keekorok it was a base tomato sauce with your choice of onions, peppers, chilli, and lots more that have escaped my head as I type! Trust me though, there was more than just that!
I should add that due to our holiday package, all our food was inclusive, as it was in all the lodges we visited. The only thing we had to pay for (and it seemed the same for every other visitor too) was drinks. Soft drinks are relatively cheap, and the local larger isn't that bad either. But don't forget to save a bit for tipping the waiters! Remember, tipping is expected - and normal and polite! - in Kenya. A little goes a long way.
There was a gorgeous pool in the grounds, which due to our frequent game drives and therefore leaving the lodge on a regular basis, we didn't get the chance (or have the energy!) to try it out. But it looked clean and as it was surrounded by trees, was secluded. The rest of the grounds were well kept and maintained. Considering we were right in the middle of the Masai Mara (with wild animals everywhere!), there were no obvious fencing around the grounds! But it never seemed a problem and made it all the more exciting. Besides, wild animals aren't THAT stupid...
This lodge had something completely unique. It had its own hippo pool! Directly in front of our lodge, across the lush green grounds (which also contained the aforementioned swimming pool) was a the start of a walkway. The walkway in total covers about 300 meters in a loop which eventually leads you back to the other side of the lodge's grounds. But in the middle of the walkway you find yourself heading towards a small hut with extends over a large pool. The hut itself is a bar, providing the opportunity for you to sit and while away the hours with a cold drink, watching over the pool. A pool that contained a family of at least (so we were told that day by the barman!) 17! Not only that, we also saw a buffalo braving the pool edge for a drink, and a crocodile! (The hippos weren't too impressed by HIS presence!) Again, like the lodge grounds itself, there's no fencing around the hippo pool! Hippos by nature are quite quiet during the day - it's at night that they get active in the cooler weather. Also, hippos are one of THE most dangerous creatures - I believe they have killed more humans than most other animals, simply because of their bad tempers!! But don't worry. As soon as it gets dark at Keekorok Lodge, if you're travelling from the bar or restaurant back to your lodge, you're accompanied by a ranger with a rifle! Not as scary as it sounds - it's very reassuring. We were told that at night the hippos can sometimes venture up to the lodge to graze on the grass at night, but at sunrise well armed staff members usher them gently back towards the pool. We didn't have ANY trouble from them, and it was thrilling to be that close to nature.
Another additional point I should make is that the beauty of this lodge already being inside the Masai Mara Natural Reserve is that as soon as you leave (in your safari vehicles!) the lodge, you're on safari and you could see anything! No travelling to the park's gates and waiting for your driver to complete the paperwork - you're already in there! So keep your eyes peeled!
Keekorok Lodge also offer you the opportunity to pay for a hot air balloon flight during dawn over the Masai Mara, including breakfast. We ummed and ahhed over whether or not to treat ourselves to this, what with it being our honeymoon and it being something we'd both always wanted to do. The price was a little high (I'm sorry, the amount escapes me, but it was at least £100 per person!), and we'd decided that we'd spent enough on the honeymoon already. We're glad we didn't decide to do the balloon flight. Although it looked amazing, and I'm sure everyone who did it thoroughly enjoyed themselves, it would have meant us missing the only true early morning game drive of our entire 8 day safari - and it was undoubtedly the best (lighting, cheetahs - see the comment at the start of the review!). Still, it's worth knowing that the balloon ride is an option - certainly not many places better to do it!
All in all, a beautiful lodge, highly recommended, and would stay there again in an instant!